Friday, December 10, 2004

Victoria's Secret is dirtier than smut 

I always thought Victoria's secret was that she was really a guy. Turns out it's far worse.

Victoria's dirty little secret is that she mails out 370 000 000 (lots of zeroes there, and I'm not just talking about those googling the bulimic silicone valkyries in the mailings) catalogs a year:

Another site gives the statistics:

The environmental campaign against Victoria’s Secret and parent company, Limited Brands, began in September and includes an outdoor advertising campaign in major cities across the country, protests, and a website (www.victoriasdirtysecret.net) where people can get involved and challenge the retailer to use recycled paper, to stop using paper from the world’s last remaining Endangered Forests and to reduce its overall paper usage.

Victoria’s Secret mails more than a million catalogs a day, using less than 1% recycled paper overall. The average person on the company’s mailing list receives at least 24 catalogs a year. Two years of investigative research has revealed a direct link between Victoria’s Secret catalogs and the destruction of old growth and endangered forests in the Canadian Boreal, the third largest forest wilderness in the world.

That's a lot of catalogs, and one wonders why, with all the gloss and ink (yes, especially the flesh tones), they can't at least use more than 1% recycled pulp.

2 a month to the average person on the mailing list? It must work...and if each catalog costs $1-2 to make, that means Victoria's Secret must rake in close to $1 billion/year (they do!).

Thus, with this massive market clout, they can set the tone for the industry, as noted on the Dirty Secret site:

What We're Demanding of Victoria's Secret and Limited Brands:
-->End purchases from any company that is not identifying and halting logging in endangered forests in the Canadian Boreal;

-->Maximize post-consumer recycled content in catalogs (Achieve 50% post-consumer recycled in five years);
-->Ensure that all suppliers are shifting to Forest Stewardship Council certification;
-->End the use of any forest products sourced from other endangered forests, such as key areas of the Southern U.S.
-->Reduce paper use

Works for me. Victoria needs to learn more about the secret of variable data printing. It will save them money and save the planet a little longer.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

It's the economy, stupid! 

Bush brags (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/economy/index.html) about the 2 million jobs he's created this year. Nevermind the site is still posting the unadjusted 337,000 value...one lie begets another.

Too bad he doesn't mention the nearly 1 million that have been cut. And, with the mean differential at $14,000 per job (the mean job cut earned $14,000 more than the mean job created), is this really the direction we want to be headed?

Here's what Money's site says:

U.S. employers have announced 930,690 job cuts this year, down 19 percent from the same period a year earlier.

But if December cuts reach 69,310, it will mark the fourth straight year with 1 million cuts announced by U. S. employers, Challenger added.

One million times $14,000 is $14 billion, just a pittance compared to the $50 billion monthly trade imbalance...but how do we expect the economy to come back with that money "out of circulation"?

The U.S. economy has added 2.04 million jobs this year, as measured by the Labor Department's monthly surveys of non-farm payrolls.

Job growth slowed sharply in November after a strong October, the department reported last week. And even with the strong October, job growth over the last six months has averaged 152,000 a month, about what's needed to keep up with population growth.

Let's take the difference, then. 2.04 million - 0.93 = 1.11 million new jobs this year. That is less than 101,000 net new jobs per month...in other words, 51,000 LESS than needed to keep pace with population growth.

Post that on www.whitehouse.gov, why don't you? Instead of the following lies:

1. The government released new jobs figures on November 5, 2004 - and the data show robust job gains. Employment rose by 337,000 in October.

No, it's 303,000. See last week's news. This is a factual lie.

2. [T]he economy has added nearly 2.4 million jobs since last August, with 14 straight months of job gains.

This is a lie by statistics, either meant to conflate 14 months with the past year, or trying to avoid the disaster of 15 months ago...either way, 14 months is hardly a "round" number.

3. The economy has posted steady job gains for each of the last fourteen months - creating nearly 2.4 million jobs since August 2003, according to the payroll survey.

152,000 x 14 = 2,128,000. This many additional jobs are needed to keep up with population growth. And the real number is less than 1.0 million, when the adjustments of just the past three months are accounted for and the (at least) 1.3 million jobs lost in the last 14 months are accounted for. Sounds like it has not even halfway kept even with population growth. Taking into account the $14,000/job differential means take-home pay is actually not even keeping up that much. This is a cluster lie. So many lies in one statement, so few words.

4. The household survey shows nearly 2.5 million jobs created since August 2003.

100,000 jobs were just created in one sentence. This is a lie of hyperbole.

5. The national unemployment rate edged up slightly to 5.5% in October, largely due to an increase in the size of the labor force.

This is the worst lie of all. They've ignored the FACT that the population is increasing in every above "fact", now they use it to defend an increased unemployment rate. You can't have it both ways. There are more jobs and more people. But there are less jobs per 1,000 people.


But for these heroes... 

A round of applause for the overstretched military surgeons. But for their skilled intervention, the death rates in Iraq would be much, much higher. If even Gulf War/Vietnam War rates (approximately 24% of all casualties) were experienced, there would be more than 2700 dead already.

And the next time you see someone with a prosthetic, give him/her a smile, will ya?


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Interesting Web Site from Iraq War vets... 

For an interesting take on the Iraq War from those who know, I suggest this one.

From what I have read on it to date, it seems even-handed and generally non-partisan (thanks, guys!). Thanks to Faolin for the heads up.

Out of respect for the folks going through this Hell in the name of our freedom and prosperity (whether or not that's what it will achieve I leave to other discussions--but never doubt why most of the folks are over there, it's certainly not to pad their resumes), please give it a few moments' time.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The US educational system continues to unravel... 

As if the brain drain weren't enough, now a cat can get an MBA.

I know, I know, it's easy to make jokes about marketing people, but this is a sad comment on the state of the US. Another oxymoron of the "age of information" is that everyone now looks the same on paper. Who you know, perhaps, has never been more important...


SUV = Suddenly Uncontrolled Venom 

Man, don't bounce a golfball near this woman.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Iraq, the Press and the Election 

Michael Massing's explanation of the election results is both sagacious and tragic.

In the end, the war in Iraq did not have the decisive impact on the election that many had expected. In the weeks before the vote there were the massacre of forty-nine Iraqi police trainees; a deadly attack inside the previously impenetrable Green Zone in Baghdad; the refusal by an army unit to carry out a supply mission on the grounds that it was too dangerous; the explosion of several car bombs at a ceremony where soldiers were handing out candy, killing dozens of children; the abduction of contractors, journalists, and aid workers, including the director of the CARE office in Baghdad; the release of a report holding the highest reaches of the Pentagon and the military responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib; a report by President Bush's hand-picked investigator confirming that Iraq had long ago lost its ability to produce weapons of mass destruction; and the spread of the insurgency to every corner of the country, bringing reconstruction to a virtual halt. All of this, in the end, counted for less to voters (if the exit polls are to be believed) than such issues as whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry and whether discarded embryos should be used for stem cell research.

How did this happen? In many ways, George Bush's victory seems to have confirmed the fact that large numbers of voters in America today are very conservative, dominated by strong attachments to God, country, and the traditional family. At the same time, it's not clear to what extent the public was aware of just how bad things had gotten in Iraq. For while there was much informative reporting on the war, a number of factors combined to shield Americans from its most brutal realities. A look at these factors can help to understand some neglected aspects of George Bush's victory.

Please read the whole story...it's truly amazing how Fox and CNN have shielded us from the reality of the war in Iraq. Not watching TV, let alone these notworks, I am still in awe when I see things like:

And that's how Fox wants it. The most striking feature of its coverage of the war in Iraq was, in fact, its lack of coverage. A good example occurred on the Saturday before the election. That morning, the US military announced that eight Marines had been killed and nine others wounded in attacks in the Sunni Triangle. It was the highest US death toll in nearly seven months. After reading the news on the Web, I tuned in to Fox's 11 AM news summary. It made no mention of the dead Marines. The next hour was taken up by a feverish program on hot stock picks. Then came the noon newscast. After spending ten minutes on the Osama bin Laden tape, the presidential campaign, and the tight race in Ohio, it finally got around to informing viewers of the Marines' deaths. It then spent all of twenty seconds on them. As it turned out, that Saturday was a particularly bloody day in Iraq, with a series of bombings, mortar attacks, and ambushes throughout the country. Viewers of Fox, however, saw little of it.

Somehow, Americans seem to think that if they don't know about the war, or acknowledge what is happening, it will go away. Well, it won't go away. The attack in Jeddah today, far from showing that the Al Qaeda is "on the move" ("W"'s explanation), simply shows that they are strengthening. They are now acting in Iraq, where they had no foothold prior to 2003. They are renewed in Saudi Arabia, and actively recruiting around the world, even here in Colorado (brazen bastards!).

And what is "W" doing about it? Asking us to shop more for Christmas.

Every day we stay is another half a billion dollars and 50 lives flushed down the drain (even the most conservative estimates show $200 billion in direct costs, another $100 billion in indirect [e.g. increased oil prices] cost, and 30,000 US and Iraqi dead since March 2003). Get out!

The sunk cost trap is going to bankrupt the US. Leave the casino now.


Flower power... 

Very cool....recycle your cell phone cover by planting it!


Uranus is bigger than you think... 

And not just because you've said "yes" a few too many times to "Want that Super Sized?"

It turns out that the British "stole" the co-discovery of Neptune along with the rightful French scientist who discovered it.

Still, with quotes like this: "Or perhaps was Uranus being influenced by yet another unknown world?" one can't help but think about that famed 400-lb. neighbor of Opus the Penguin's outside gardening in lime green spandex, prompting the penguin to dial 911.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Missed Information and Mis-Information 

Turns out that Pat Tillman was killed by US troops:

The Ranger said Tillman had repeatedly screamed out his name and shouted for the shooting to stop, the Post said. He and others waved their arms, only attracting more fire. Tillman was shot repeatedly by rifles, finally succumbing to the machine gun.

Early in the firing, the Post said, the driver of one of the Serial Two vehicles pulled out of the canyon and recognized the parked U.S. Army vehicles in front of him.

"The driver shouted twice: 'We have friendlies on top!' ... Then he yelled several more times to cease fire, he recalled.

"'No one heard me."'

It sure took a long time for this to come out...like until after the election.

These types of "friendly fire" incidents are inevitable during a guerrilla-style war. As in Afghanistan. The first country we invaded, on far better pretext--yet nowhere near resolution even today.

The one in Iraq cannot even be called a "guerrilla style war" yet, with the highway between BIA and the Green Zone unsecured (another blast there today)--the US simply does not control enough of the country. Sending 12,000 more troops isn't going to make this appreciably better. Bogged down, isolated and now the "entrenched targets" rather than a moving, "liberating" front, our troops are suffering from unprecedented war-related stress and depression. There can be no surprise about this. 70 more Iraqis cooperating with the US were killed this weekend. You can't win the hearts and minds of a "liberated" country when anyone you don't accidentally or intentionally kill is mopped up by the "insurgents".

And not just the Iraqis are being killed. With US troop casualty rates (per 1,000 troops) approaching three times those of Vietnam, this is already way beyond any hope of "victory". Stubborn till the end, we are going to stay there until a Lebanon-like barrack attack occurs. Which, tragically, is just a matter of time.

After all, the Green Zone isn't moving any time soon. Every day we stay we dig deeper and deeper. Time to put down the shovel and grab the ladder.


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